ST. LOUIS – The verdict in the Jason Stockley murder trial could come down at any moment. Stockley is the former St. Louis police officer accused of executing a suspect in December 2011.
It’s been 33 days since the trial ended with closing arguments. For more than a month, Judge Timothy Wilson has had this case without any hint about when he might rule. Before the trial, when he agreed to be the sole decider, he wrote “whatever the ultimate outcome, it likely will be melancholy.”
The case revolves around a police shooting that began at the Church’s Chicken in north St. Louis. Surveillance video shows police officers block in a drug suspect, who then backs into the police car as the officers approached. Former officer Jason Stockley ran after the suspect’s car, firing seven shots with his service pistol.
Stockley was questioned why he had his personal rifle with him. He said he didn’t fire it that day, but carried it knowing he was violating department policy because he thought his life and the lives of his fellow officers depended on it.
Audio from the dash cam may be the most contentious issue for the judge.
During court testimony, Stockley did not deny that you could hear him say, “gonna kill this mother(expletive), don’t you know it.” He said he didn’t remember it and that he was frustrated with how the chase was going. He also said he believes those few words have been taken out of context.
The pursuit ended with Stockley shooting Anthony Lamar Smith to death, with one shot so close, a shell casing landed on the suspect’s floor board. Prosecutors said that shot was fired less than six inches from the suspect. The defense argued Stockley jumped back as he fired, proving he feared for his life.
There’s also the issue of the gun officers found in the suspect’s car. The state said Stockley planted it and only his DNA was found on it. The defense said Stockley touched the gun without gloves in order to “render it safe,” adding the absence of anyone else’s detectable DNA doesn’t mean someone else didn’t touch it.
It appears city leaders anticipate a verdict soon; they’ve placed barriers around the courthouse and have reminded people to remain calm.